Veronica Guerin suspect dies in prison

 

PATRICK ‘DUTCHY’ Holland, the career criminal named in court as the man who shot crime journalist Veronica Guerin, has died in a British jail aged 70.The Dubliner and former US marine was found dead at 6am yesterday in his cell in Parkhurst prison, Isle of Wight.

Holland is believed to have suffered from a heart complaint. A spokeswoman for the British ministry of justice said it appeared he had died of natural causes.

“As with all deaths in custody, the prisons and probation ombudsman will conduct an investigation,” the spokeswoman said.

Holland, from Inchicore, Dublin, was an armed robber and drug dealer. His criminal record stretched back to the 1960s and at times he had been involved in INLA and IRA activities.

In the mid-1990s he was a member of the major drugs gang led by John Gilligan. Gardaí investigating the murder of Veronica Guerin in June 1996 came into intelligence from within the Gilligan gang that Holland carried out the murder. Holland fled the Republic for Amsterdam and London after the journalist’s killing but returned to Dublin less than a year later.

He first came to the public’s attention when after his arrest in 1997 on drugs charges the Special Criminal Court heard he was the suspect for Ms Guerin’s murder.

Garda Marion Cusack told the court she arrested Holland after he arrived at the Dún Laoghaire ferry port on April 9th, 1997, on suspicion of having a firearm at the junction of the Naas Road and Boot Road on June 26th, 1996, when Ms Guerin was shot.

Garda Cusack said: “I had formed the opinion that Patrick Holland was the man who shot dead Veronica Guerin.”

Holland was never charged with the murder and always denied the accusation.

“I haven’t killed anybody ever. There is no blood on my hands,” he insisted.

He was convicted of drugs offences relating to his role in the Gilligan gang on the evidence of the informer Charles Bowden.

He was sentenced to 20 years which was later reduced to 12 years. With remission he served nine years and was released from Portlaoise Prison in April 2006. He went to London a short time later.